Summer nostalgia

I know it’s not *technically* summer  yet, but it’s in the 90’s in El Paso, so it feel like summer. Crazy to think we have over a month until the actual solstice! Anyway, I digress.

Summer has great memories. I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about this before. Here’s a list of things I love about summer (which lasts for 6-7 months here. Haha.)

  • Having more daylight, especially in the evenings. I love taking the puppy for walks right after the sun goes behind the mountains. Kids are playing in the street and people are outside. It’s nice. (P.S. She’s not really a puppy, but who cares?)
  • Having more daylight in the morning, which forces me to get out of bed
  • Tomatoes!!!! Can’t wait to get some of these from the farmer’s market, and hopefully my back yard. Tomatoes + cottage cheese + cracked black pepper = heaven.
  • Iced tea. Fresh brewed, unsweetened, with lemon. Yes.
  • Lazy days where you stay inside, watch movies and enjoy the A/C. We have a swamp cooler, but it still gets nice and cool in here!
  • Birds chirping
  • Green grass. Don’t get much of that around here, but when I do see it, it makes me really really happy.
  • Staying up really late and reading in bed with a cool breeze coming from the window. Okay, this is mainly something I’d do when I lived at home. I really should read more…..
  • Summer foods that don’t need to be hot… pasta salad, BLT’s, potato salad, Jell-O, fruit.
  • Burgers/steaks/chicken on the grill. We have a charcoal grill and it makes things taste so yummy
  • Asparagus!!!
  • Shorts, t-shirts, maxi skirts, SANDALS (Ughhh I hate socks and shoes), flippy-floppies, tank tops
  • Getting a tan. I haven’t been trying to, because this sun is hella strong down here, but I do wear SPF 15 lotion daily and some sun gets through. WEAR SUNSCREEN!
  • Thunderstorms. Ahhhhh. I miss these so badly!!
  • Running in the rain. Again, can’t really do this… I mean, it’s a big deal if we have a 10% chance of rain.
  • The fact that I’m not cold 24-freaking-7. I’m still that crazy person who takes a sweater into BDubs or Chili’s in the middle of SUMMER.
  • Hanging clothes outside. Again, another memory from living at home, but sheets always smelled soooo good.
  • Bath and Body Works’ Berry Vanilla body spray from last season. It’s summer in a plastic container.

So, friends, there’s my list of reasons I love summer. I really love all the seasons for their own reasons. I just have to say something to the people who give the desert crap for being hot: IT’S A DESERT. Of course it’s hot. But youuuuu also live in Georgia/Tennessee/Illinois/MIssouri, where it’s ridiculously humid and therefore makes it feel like 147 degrees Fahrenheit. At least our relative humidity is 6-8%. I’ll take that over 85 degrees in Illinois. Seriously. And by the way, we have some kickbutt tumbleweeds out here. You win some, you lose some.

A little getaway

This weekend we drove to Carlsbad, New Mexico, for some [tent] camping and caving. My parents gave us a bunch of camping stuff before we got married, and being on a budget, we reserved two nights at the Carlsbad KOA Kampground. I love KOAs… and have stayed at them in California, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, and now New Mexico.

Here’s a snip of our route there.

It is quicker to go the southern route, on 62/180, but we were told it’s more scenic to go the other way. We brought the southern route home, which actually did not lack scenery. After I got home from work around 11:30 on Saturday, we packed up everything and we were off.

I had heard great things about Cloudcroft; namely, that the temperatures were a LOT cooler than El Paso. And they were, as it’s nearly 9,000 ft above sea level.

Green! Yay! After almost two months in the desert, this was a breathtaking sight.

We ventured on in New Mexico. After we descended from this little oasis, there was pretty much nothing. How do people live out in the literal middle of nowhere? I don’t think I could do it.

Anyway, we got to the Carlsbad KOA around four-something. The campground itself is actually halfway between Artesia and Carlsbad. We set up camp, and took to relaxing for the evening. For dinner we had hot dogs over the fire.

Sunday morning we woke up and ate a quick breakfast of Pop-Tarts and berries. We got some coffee from the campground store (makes me want a Keurig) and we headed for the caverns. It was about a 50-minute trip there, and we had to get there early to pick up our tickets for the tour.

After taking the tour on the paved trail, we ascended up through the natural entrance, which was an ascent of about 800 ft. (Some more adventurous ones, like my dear husband, wouldn’t have minded “wild caving”. Uh, crawling around in spaces that are dark and scary? Not for me.)

I love this picture of us… [aside: WHY do I spend so much time on my hair and makeup when not camping? It all looks the same to me. Anyway.. carry on.]

That’s the light of day! While we were on the tour, the ranger turned out all the lights for a few minutes. It was unnerving.

We ate a gourmet lunch in the car of chips and tuna salad sandwiches before we toured the visitors’ center. We headed back to the campground after stopping for coffee (and maybe a pancake or two) at IHOP.

It was unseasonably cool and rainy yesterday, but the rain stopped in the early afternoon. We relaxed in the hot tub when we got back to the campground and then took showers.

Foil dinners were on the menu for Sunday night. Aaron got the fire going, which wasn’t an easy task with the wind. With foil dinner, you can put whatever you want in the foil, wrap it up, and cook it in the hot coals. We took ground beef, veggies, and seasonings. Yum.

Pair that with a yummy beer (we had ShockTop Raspberry Wheat) and you have a great and easy meal. We also, of course, had our fair share of s’mores.

This morning we woke up with the sun, got some coffee, packed up our things, and came home.

Strange that El Paso is “home” now, but glad it’s our home. Provided I can get the time off from work, we’d like to check out Silver City over Columbus Day weekend. Oh Army, how I heart four-day weekends!

Hope you had a restful Labor Day weekend, friends. 🙂

>New summer food ideas

>Last week when I went to the store, I filled up about half of my cart with produce. I should have thought through my week to realize that I wouldn’t be home a whole lot to cook, but thankfully most of it was still good today.

I had two bananas that were very very ripe and wanted to bake with them. So I found this recipe online for banana muffins. Instead of the 1.5 cups of flour, I put in .5 cup almond flour, .5 cup of my oatmeal mix and .5 cups of white whole wheat flour. I also added one finely chopped apple and used two bananas instead of three. Very yummy with real butter to top it off! To make them even healthier, I could have replaced the butter with a mix of water and ground flax seed, and the sugar with Splenda. But I’m a huge fan of real butter and real sugar. The best part is that you can have one.. or two three… and not feel horribly guilty.

Here’s what I made for lunch. I tried a version this recipe for tropical guacamole. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out… I had one avocado, a little salt, juice from a lime, pineapple and watermelon. Interesting combo, to say the least. I used the peas to dip. Overall, not a huge fan of the guac.

I had some leftover steak from the kabobs Leah and I made on Wednesday, so I cut that up and put it over some spinach (my salad mix had already gone bad) and tomato. I’m usually not a picky person, but for some reason I have a problem with the texture of the meat and the veggies together. It was still tasty, though. Maybe next time I’ll eat it separately.

I love tomato so I had the other half of the one in the salad.

The weird thing with butter in it over to the left is called a Butter Bell… it keeps the butter fresh at room temperature for a very long time. I don’t use margarine anymore; only butter.

And of course, I had to wash this all down with a big glass of (decaf) tea.

I always like to try new things in the kitchen; I get bored easily with the same recipes prepared the same ways. I also like to use leftovers and any food I already have because I love grocery shopping, but only like to do it twice a month.

Enjoy the day! It’s a hot one. I think I’ll bum around inside, finishing up some cleaning and laundry and maybe taking a nap.

Check it out…

 El Paso, TX Weather Forecast

Peoria, IL Weather Forecast
Pretty similar, if you ask me (except for the rain…)

>On the menu

>Today as I was driving to work for the last time until who knows when, I realized that in a few short weeks I will be cooking. And not just on Sundays for the week, but several times a week. Not only will I be cooking, but planning meals and shopping. This is very exciting because I will be able to cook for two people. It means that leftovers won’t go as far, but I will be able to share my budding culinary prowess with someone special.


I got the new issue of Women’s Health in the mail this week. I never used to be one to care for the recipes in magazines. That was boring stuff. Well, not anymore. I found this delicious-looking recipe for tropical guacamole.


Tropical Guac
Avocados are rich in healthy, belly-trimming monounsaturated fats. Because this dip is bulked up with fruit, it has fewer calories per scoop than traditional guacamole. 

1/2 avocado, pitted, peeled, and chopped
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp chopped red onion
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp chopped jalapeno
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped pineapple
1/4 cup chopped mango
1/4 cup chopped cantaloupe

Mash avocado and salt together with a fork. Gently stir in onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime juice. Fold in pineapple, mango, and cantaloupe. 



Yum. I love guacamole and I love fruit. This sounds like a plan. I will probably ditch the jalapeno, though. I like spicy things, but sparingly. Like, as a twice a year thing.


I also have a steak in the freezer I can thaw and make kabobs with yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, onion, pepper. I’m sure you’re wondering where this girl is gonna grill. That would be the George Foreman grill/griddle combo my parents gave us from their camping stuff.


I’m going to make tuna salad. What’s tuna salad without Miracle Whip and sweet relish? Gotta buy some crackers or pita chips to go with that. Maybe I’ll make my own…


For breakfast, I’m going to get some bagels to make them with peanut butter, bananas, and strawberries. Sounds delicious.


Needless to say, my husband will be spoiled most evenings with these sorts of foods… I’m sure he’s thankful that I’ve taught myself how to cook over the past two years.


I’ll need lots of healthy, filling options because sometimes I like to workout twice a day. Today I went to BodyFlow, and this afternoon I’ll be going on a run with Tim. Tomorrow morning, I’m planning on getting my butt out of bed at 5:00 to go to BodyPump, and Saturday is my long run with Gabi. We’re shooting for seven miles, eight if we feel good.


Bring on the summer! I’d better enjoy the rain while I can… there’s no water in the desert. 😉